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SportSmith raring to go, Khawaja expected to be fit for Ashes opener

17:17  22 july  2019
17:17  22 july  2019 Source:   reuters.com

Australia's Maxwell, Stoinis out of Ashes calculations

Australia's Maxwell, Stoinis out of Ashes calculations Australia's Maxwell, Stoinis out of Ashes calculations

It is a pity a ridiculously gruelling schedule — five Ashes Tests will be crammed into just over six Perhaps the most significant move was expected — Roy confirmed as the latest opener alongside his England may have to look at this one again. The great shame is that Archer is not fit to join the

Australia captain Tim Paine talks about Usman Khawaja 's fitness.

Smith raring to go, Khawaja expected to be fit for Ashes opener© Reuters/PAUL CHILDS ICC Cricket World Cup Semi Final - Australia v England Smith raring to go, Khawaja expected to be fit for Ashes opener© Reuters/JASON CAIRNDUFF ICC Cricket World Cup - Australia v South Africa

(Reuters) - Sixteen months after leaving test cricket in disgrace over the ball-tampering furore, Steve Smith's preparations for the Ashes have gone up to a manic level as the former skipper looks to return to red ball cricket in top form.

Australia captain Tim Paine said former skipper Smith had given batting coach Graeme Hick long and taxing work-outs in the nets as he looks to hone his formidable game ahead of the Ashes opener in Edgbaston on Aug. 1.

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Prior to the Ashes , England are set to host Ireland for a one-off four-day Test at Lord’s which begins from July 24. Anderson admitted that he was “I will keep bowling and we will monitor it. If it comes to Wednesday and I’m fit to play then great, but if not I will work towards being fit for the Ashes .”

But we expect him to be fully fit and available for selection for the first Test," he added. Tim Paine will lead the Hick XII while Travis Head will be captaining Haddin XII for an all-Australian showdown starting from Tuesday. Hick XII squad: Joe Burns, Cameron Bancroft, Steve Smith , Peter Handscomb

Renowned for his obsessive approach to training, Smith is back in the test squad along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, the other two players hit with long bans for their involvement in the Cape Town scandal in March, 2018.

"You don't become one of the best players in the world and average 60 in test cricket if you don't have some sort of a mission," Paine told reporters of Smith at the team's training base in Southampton.

"The boys have been having a bit of a laugh the last couple of days because nothing's changed - he's hit a million balls and our coach's arm is falling off already on day two of the trip.

"It's great to see that him, and David (Warner) and Cameron Bancroft have come back in and fitted perfectly in our group.

"They are guys who have always trained at exceptionally high standards and set the standard for others.

Khawaja racing clock for Ashes opener

Khawaja racing clock for Ashes opener Captain Tim Paine expects injured batsman Usman Khawaja, who isn't playing the tour game in Southampton, to be fit for first Test of the Ashes.

This is where most of the intrigue lies. With Smith and Warner back, there could be two players who You can mark down Marcus Harris, Warner, Usman Khawaja , Smith and Travis Head as locks Hohns has declared two frontline slow bowlers will tour, so expect Jon Holland to be the back-up to

Smith , who has the task of rotating his front-line bowlers to keep them fresh, says Starc, Cummins and Josh Hazlewood have been building up to the Gabba opener for some time and are raring to go . Root, 26, who is lining up for only his eighth Test as England captain and first in an Ashes Test

"The three of them have been outstanding since they've been back and involved."

Australia are bidding to retain the urn and erase the disappointment of their one-day World Cup campaign, which ended in the semi-finals at the hands of hosts and eventual champions England.

Australia will play a four-day intra-squad match starting on Tuesday, with two sides padded out by Australia A players.

With the final Ashes squad to be named after, Paine said it would be no gentle hit in the park.

"Both sides will be looking to win and both sides will have individual players wanting to do really well to press their final case for Ashes selection," he said.

"At the moment it's a fair dinkum game of cricket and that's been made really clear.

"We're looking at it as a real opportunity to test each other's skills so when we get to the first test we know exactly where we're at and everyone's had a perfect preparation, and everyone's been put on pressure."

Top order batsman Usman Khawaja, who suffered a hamstring strain during the World Cup semi-final, is being rested for the unofficial match but Paine said he was expected to be fully fit and available for selection for Edgbaston.

"I don't think he's in serious doubt (for the test)," Paine said. "He's in a rehab stage so the decision has been made that he won't play at this stage.

"There is a possibility, maybe, if something were to happen to someone else he might be right for the back end of the (practice) game."

(Writing by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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